Stuart Hodgson and the Birth of the Modern Arctic
In 1967, Stuart Hodgson, a pugnacious British Columbia labour leader, was the newly-appointed Commissioner of the Northwest Territories, responsible for establishing a fledgling government in the frontier capital of Yellowknife. Written by his former aide and confidante, Umingmak is a first-hand account of Hodgson’s indefatigable and often controversial efforts to introduce self-government and improve the lives of Northerners.
Beginning with an unprecedented and harrowing winter tour of remote Arctic communities, Hodgson’s initiatives ranged from the practical (helping Inuit citizens choose surnames to replace government-issued ID numbers) to the visionary (founding the Arctic Winter Games) to the grandiose (organizing three Royal visits). Determined to empower Arctic communities, Hodgson had to balance Dene, Inuit and Métis aspirations with those of non-indigenous residents, business interests and the shifting priorities of the federal government. His actions fundamentally shaped both the Northwest Territories and Nunavut and continue to reverberate throughout the Arctic.
Jake Ootes is a former reporter who was the Northwest Territories Director of the Territorial Department of Information, responsible for all government public affairs and communications. In 1995, Ootes was elected to the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories and later appointed Minister of Education, Culture and Employment. He retired from politics in 2004 and now owns and operates Celista Estate Winery in British Columbia.